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John Mason Dill Archive: Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company Photographic Collection

Identifier: WP-006

Scope and Contents

This collection depicts John Mason Dill at the end of his working career as a draftsman at the engineering office of Tennessee Coal, and Iron Railroad Company in Birmingham and Fairfield, Alabama. The photographs show Dill’s coworkers at the office, his retirement party, and outside of the workplace. The collection also includes a comic drawing of two people seated at a drawing table at the engineering office in Ensley, Alabama, a poem dedicated to Joseph Mason Dill for his retirement, and a brochure about the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company’s new general office in Fairfield, Alabama.


  • 1911 - 1951


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Due to the nature of certain archival formats, including digital and audio-visual materials, access to certain materials may require additional advance notice.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are responsible for using the materials in conformance with United States copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright claimants in collection materials. Copyright for official University records is held by The University of Alabama. The library claims only physical ownership of many manuscript collections. Anyone wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of literary property rights or copyrights. Please contact Special Collections ( with questions regarding specific manuscript collections. For more information about copyright policy, please visit: Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal implications, for which the University of Alabama assumes no responsibility.

Biographical / Historical

The Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company (TCI) was one of the largest steel manufacturers in America. TCI, originally named Sewanee Furnace Company, was founded in 1852 by Nashville entrepreneurs. In 1859, after financial troubles, they sold their business to New York investors and the name was changed to Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company.

In 1876, Thomas O’Connor purchased the company and soon after he expanded the business into iron manufacturing. After TCI purchased the Birmingham-based Pratt Coal and Iron Company in 1886, they expanded their operation into Alabama, relocating their offices to Birmingham in 1895. During the last two decades of nineteenth century, they were the largest blast furnace operator in the South, having seventeen blast furnaces in operation in 1900.

The company’s largest industrial plant was located in Ensley, Alabama, founded by company president Enoch Ensley in 1886. The town and the plant, located outside of Birmingham, were growing rapidly. In 1899, the plant had four blast furnaces in operation, and in 1906 two more were built producing 40,000 tons of steel that year.

TCI’s main competitor, the United States Steel Corporation, acquired TCI in 1907. TCI continued to operate independently as a subsidiary of U. S. Steel Corporation. In 1910, work began on a new community called Corey, Alabama, which was later renamed Fairfield.

TCI’s independence from U. S. Steel ended in 1952. Ten years later, a decline began as most of the Birmingham mines were closing down. In the following decades, TCI experienced downsizing and consolidation of the Ensley and Fairfield plants. The Fairfield plant continued to operate, with diminished capacity, until November 17, 2015 when the last 1,600 employees were laid off.

Source: Wikipedia.


0.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection consists of photographs, drawings and graphic materials depicting John Mason Dill and his coworkers at the end of his working career as one of the draftsman at the engineering office at the Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company in Birmingham and Fairfield, Alabama.

Physical Location

The A. S. Williams III Americana Collection, Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, The University of Alabama.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of A. S. Williams III, 2010.

Processing Information

Processed by Marina Klarić, October 2019.
Guide to John Mason Dill Archive: Tennessee, Coal, Iron and Railroad Company Photographic Collection
Finding aid created by Marina Klarić, October 2019
October 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266